From Fred Itua, Abuja
There are fresh fears that the All Progressives Congress (APC) may run into troubled waters as its leadership appear divided over decision to officially order political appointees at the state and federal levels to resign ahead of its primaries.
The party’s National Working Committee (NWC), in its last two meetings, had failed to reach a common ground on compelling appointees vying for elective positions in 2023 or aspiring to vote as delegates to resign their appointments.
A member of the NWC told Daily Sun that while some leaders of the party, including the National Chairman, Adamu Abdullahi, are of the view that a circular should be released mandating political appointees vying for various positions to resign, the National Legal Adviser, Ahmed El-Marzuk, has resisted the decision.
The source said APC governors were also notified to issue an ultimatum to their appointees aspiring to contest the 2023 polls to resign. It is believed that the notification had informed the decision of Ondo, Ekiti, Kaduna and Gombe governors to issue deadlines to their appointees to resign and focus on their political aspirations.
The NWC source, however, said El-Marzuk, who hails from President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state of Katsina, is opposed to the idea of officially issuing a circular, counselling instead that the party hierarchy waits until the Court of Appeal rules on an appeal filed by the National Assembly challenging a Federal High Court judgment in Umuahia on the matter.
The legal adviser is said to have cautioned that NWC members remain neutral on the matter in order not to incur the wrath of members of the National Assembly or some ministers in Buhari’s administration.
It was learnt that the issue of the resignation of appointees would form the thrust of discussions when NEC members meet in Abuja on Wednesday.
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It was also learnt that Buhari, who had earlier instructed the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami to explore other options, when lawmakers failed to amend Section 84(12) of the new Electoral Act, is unwilling to compel his appointees to resign, until the judgment of the Court of Appeal rules.
“Many NWC members are worried that the party could run into trouble if the expected judgment doesn’t work in their favour,” the source said.
Section 84 of the new Electoral Act stipulates that anyone holding a political office, ministers, commissioners, special advisers and others, must relinquish the position before they can be eligible to participate in the electoral process either as a candidate or delegate.
It state: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”
The provision further states that where a political party fails to comply with the provisions of the Act in the conduct of its primaries, its candidate for election shall not be included in the election for the particular position in issue.
Within President Muhamamdu Buhari’s cabinet, those to be affected include ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation,Abubakar Malam; Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami; State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba; Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva; Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare.